How to Transcribe

Welcome to our Digital Archivization project! We’re so grateful for your help making our documents accessible. To start transcribing:

1. Go to and create your username and password. Then, hit “Create Account.” If you already have a username and password, use them to log in at

2. You should see the Museum’s name at the top, and your own name in the upper right hand corner. Scroll down on this page to see everything we have available to transcribe, then click the TITLE you are interested in (ex. A Sandy Spring Summer: Horticultural Society). Do NOT click “Start Transcribing” and do NOT click “Find A Project.”

3. Once you are inside the chapter, click “Pages That Need Transcription” on the right.

4. Now, you can see all the pages in a document that still need work. You can use the image previews on the left to decide which document looks interesting and legible to you, and then click either the page name, or “help transcribe.”

5. This is where you will transcribe! The original document is on the left, and you will type on the right. Use these 6 buttons above the original document to:

a. Zoom in (You may also be able to Zoom in out out by scrolling your mouse)
b. Zoom out
c. Return to original zoom
d. View the document full screen (then hit escape to close it)
e. Rotate left
f. Rotate right
g. Adjust the brightness, contrast, and threshold to make the words more visible.

6. You will also see 6 more buttons to the right. They are:

a. add: Use this button when someone has added something to a document using a carrot, or squished the word in otherwise.

b. del: Use this button when someone has crossed out a word, but you can still tell what it says. If they crossed it out and you cannot read it, still use del, and put a [?] for the word or phrase you can’t read.

c. fig: Use this button if there is a drawing, photograph, or other figure. Please describe the figure, so that someone looking for it could find it using a search! For example, write “drawing of a smiling person riding a bike” instead of “drawing.”

d. sub: Use this for subscript that appears lower on the line of text. (For example the 2 in H₂O is subscript)

e. sup: Use this for superscript that appears higher on the line of text. (For example, the 2 in 1² is superscript)

7. You will also see two boxes, and 4 more buttons on the right side. Use:

a. “Mark as Blank” to mark a page that is blank, like the cover, or inside cover of a book with no writing or images on it. Then hit “Save” and “Done”

b. “Needs Review” if you want someone else to proof read your transcription. If you have any words you cannot decipher, please put [?] and then check “Needs Review.”

c. “Preview” to preview how your transcription will look to others when it is done.

d. “Autolink” please ignore this button.

e. “Save” to save your work! Please always hit this button a few times as you are working, and especially when you are finished transcribing!

f. “Done” to complete your transcription. Always hit “Save” before you hit “Done.”

8. When you finish a page, hit “Save” and “Done.” Thank you for transcribing a page! If you want to keep transcribing, do not hit the back button on your browser. You may lose all your work. Navigate back to the chapter by clicking the title, and select another page (see step 3) or transcribe the next or previous page by hitting the arrow on the upper right. When you are done transcribing for the day, you may simply close the browser as long as you have hit “Save” and “Done.”


Q: What do I do if I can’t read a word?

A: Please put a [?] in place of the word, or put your best guess inside the brackets with the question mark: [guess?] Then, when you are done, make sure to check “Needs Review” (see step 7b). It’s okay and normal to have some question marks in a document! If you check “Needs Review,” we will be able to proofread your transcription and fill in the missing words.

Q: When do I hit enter to make a new line?

A: Please follow the original line breaks of the document. This means that if the original author moves to the next line, so should you, even if the sentence is not done. For example, line 3 of the original document should be the same as line 3 on your transcription.

Q: What if a word is broken in half by the line break?

A. Like this?

This is the exception to the rule! Please finish the broken word on the line it starts on, like this:

Q: The original author made a spelling/grammatical error. Can I fix it in my transcription?

No, please transcribe all spelling and grammar as is, even if there are errors.

Q: There is a chart or a table on this document! What do I do?

Don’t worry about replicating the formatting of tables, charts, or other structured text (like on many of our ledgers). Our goal is to increase legibility and search-ability, not perfectly duplicate our documents. All we ask is that you do your best to make use of spaces, punctuation, and line breaks.

Further Questions?

Email our Transcription Coordinator, Emil, at!